Popular articles on Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber don't reel in as many ad dollars as they do eyeballs, a new study has found. The most profitable online news articles focused on topics such as unemployment, the Gulf oil spill and recalls.
Online news outlet might be convinced "link bait" articles on pop stars and weird news will attract revenue, but a new study refutes that claim. Research from the Perfect Market, a company that helps newspapers make their sites profitable, found "articles about unemployment benefits, the Gulf oil spill, mortgage rates and other serious topics were the top-earning news topics based on advertising revenue per page view," according to a press release.
Julie Schoenfeld, CEO of Perfect Market, remarked: "The great insight unveiled by the Vault Index is that the stories with real revenue opportunity for news organizations today are not always, as it turns out, celebrity scandals but difficult subjects that affect people’s lives.”
The company looked at advertising revenue generated from more than 15 million articles from 21 news sites over a three-month period this summer. Perfect Market analyzed revenue per page view and found that articles about Social Security were the most profitable, earning an average of $129 for 1,000 page views. Articles on mortgage rates made $93 for every 1,000 page views. Unemployment was tabled at $28, $33 for articles on jobs, $20 for articles on the egg recall and $26 for pieces on immigration reform.
By comparison, articles on Lindsay Lohan generated $2.50 for every 1,000 page views.
Tim Ruder, Chief Revenue Officer at Perfect Market, added: Without this kind of data, publishers end up chasing trends to increase raw page views, but that is not necessarily the best revenue strategy. And it’s a disservice to their readers who want credible and important news, their advertisers who want high-value advertising placements, and their brands which live and die by the quality of their editorial coverage.”
Earlier this month, Gawker Media founder Nick Denton admitted his company's focus on "page view journalism" isn't converting readers into ad dollars.